Performer Ben Vereen to Headline Benefit For UAMS’ Psychiatric Research Institute

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – Tony Award winner Ben Vereen, noted for roles in the TV miniseries “Roots” and the motion picture “All That Jazz,” will be displaying his theatrical talents during “An Evening With Ben Vereen,” a benefit performance for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ (UAMS) Psychiatric Research Institute.


To be held July 18 at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre in downtown Little Rock, the event will showcase Vereen’s skills as a stage performer. Starring roles in Broadway’s “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Pippin” (in which he won the 1973 best actor in a musical Tony) and “Fosse” led to acclaimed TV and motion-picture parts, including “Chicken” George Moore in “Roots,” which earned him an Emmy nomination in 1979.


Vereen’s musical flair has brought him wide recognition while his involvement in humanitarian efforts in recent years has seen him garner numerous honors, including three NAACP Image Awards and the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award.


A portion of the proceeds from the event, which will include a special salute to members of the U.S. military forces and their families, will be earmarked specifically for the treatment of patients with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries. Vereen suffered a devastating brain injury in 1992 when, while walking along the Pacific Coast Highway, he was struck by a car driven by record producer and composer David Foster. Although severely injured in the accident, Vereen was able to return to Broadway less than a year later in “Jelly’s Last Jam.” 


The Psychiatric Research Institute, scheduled to open in December, will house faculty and staff dedicated to the research, evaluation and care of individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury and their families.  “We are committed to working collaboratively with the Arkansas National Guard and clinicians and researchers in the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System to provide services and develop new treatment models for returning soldiers and their families,” said G. Richard Smith, M.D., Marie Wilson Howells Professor, director of the Psychiatric Research Institute, and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry in the UAMS College of Medicine.


Tickets prices range from $250 to $1,000.  The $1,000 ticket includes a dinner on July 17 with Vereen at the Capital Hotel. For more information, contact Withers Turner at 501-526-5638 or


The new five-floor, 100,000-square-foot UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute will be one of only a few in the country combining outpatient and inpatient care, research, education and administrative offices under one roof. 


“The ability to assemble most of the Department of Psychiatry’s resources in one location will greatly benefit our patients, students, researchers and the community through improved access to mental health services,” said Smith.


The Institute’s 40 inpatient beds, outpatient clinics and resources – along with clinical partners including the UAMS Medical Center, Arkansas State Hospital and the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System – will provide “standard-setting mental health care,” Smith said. At the same time, researchers will have “the space and environment to flourish,” while education programs will produce mental health care professionals for generations, he said.


Currently, the Department of Psychiatry is scattered among 13 locations in central Arkansas, with about 8,700 patient visits monthly.


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has 2,538 students and 733 medical residents. Its centers of excellence include the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is one of the state’s largest public employers with about 9,600 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $5 billion a year. Visit